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Full text of "A report on an investigation of billboard advertising in the City of New York [microform]"

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Author: 



New York (City) 
Commissioners of 

Title: 




report on an 
investigation of billboard 

Place: 

[New York] 

Date: 

[1912] 



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New York (Citi/) Commissioners of accounts, 

A report on an investi;^ation of billboard advertising in 
the city of New York. Oflice of the commissioner of ac- 
counts, New York. Raymond B. Fosdick, commissioner. 
[New York, M. B. Brown printing & binding co., 1912] 



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1. P.ill-posting. I. Fosdick, Raymond Blaine, n. Title. 

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A Report 



ON 



An Investigation 



OF 



Billboard Advertising 



IN THE 



City of New York 



No ^ V ' f h Office of 

The "Commissioner of Accounts 
New York 

RAYMOND B. FOSDICK 

Commissioner 






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New York, August 27, 1912. 



M. B. BROWN PRINIING & BINDING CO.. 
49-57 Park Place. New York. 



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Hon. William J. Gaynor, Mayor. 



Sir — Numerous complaints have from time to time been made to 
this office by residents of the city in relation to nuisances in connection 
with billboards and signs used for advertising purposes. 

Some of these were found upon investigation to be of a particularly 
aggravating nature. For example, on a block on Riverside Drive a 
large billboard, erected in violation of law, shut out from the lower 
floors of the residences on the two adjoining streets the entire view 
of the Drive, both north and south, leaving an ugly exterior back 
of the sign facing the houses. At the base of the signs rubbish and 
litter in an unsanitary state had congregated. In another instance a 
large sign with a metal front and metallic skeleton frame was found 
on the top of a building so placed as to prevent escape in case of fire 
by the ladder leading from the fire escape. 

Under the circumstances it was decided to make an extended study 
of the conditions relating to billboard advertising in the city. Our 
report on this investigation is attached hereto. 

Respectfully submitted, 

Raymond B. Fosdick, 

Commissioner of Accounts. 



SYNOPSIS OF REPORT. 



I. Definitions. 



II. Extent of Billboard Advertising in The City of New York. 

The reports of Bureaus of Buildings. 

Locations in the City. 

Capital stock of billboard advertising companies. 

Area and Income. 

Xumber of billboards in the City. 

Number of double-deckers. 

Number of facings for advertisements. 

Actual measurements of billboards.- 

Square feet of area for advertising. 

Charges by the companies to advertisers. 

Gross revenue to billboard advertising concerns. 

III. Legal Control. 

Ordinances. 

Constitutionality of present regulations. 

Aesthetic considerations. 

Absence of test case. 

IV. Violations. 

Inspection discloses law constantly violated. 
Wood and ])artly metal signs over 10 feet in height. 
Metal signs over 18 feet 6 inches in height. 
Signs trebled. 
I)eyond the building line. 
Dangerous conditions, lack of repairs. 
Rubbish and litter at base of signs. 
Excerpts from ins])ection reports. 

Conditions of billboards on Riverside Drive and around 
Central Park West. 

V. Class of Advertisements. 

Xot used by merchants of the city. Display brands of 
whiskies, beers, tobaccos, cigarettes, patent medicines, 
etc. 



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VI. Necessity for Regulation. 

Present disregard of Building Code requirements. 
Menace to health of community. 
Fire hazard. 

Extensiveness of operations. 
Existence of regulations in other cities. 
Existence of regidations in other countries. 
Realization elsewhere of necessity for control. 
Unsightliness and ugliness of billboards. 
Beauty of environment defaced. 
Effect on property and neighborhood. 

Municipal expenditures to beautify public buildings and 
parks offset by appearance of billboards. 

VII. Decisions of Courts in re billboards and signs. 

Difficulties of legal control. 

Legislative enactments. 

Exercise of police power. 

Elements of the aesthetic — relation to police power. 

Excerpt from court decisions. 

Powers of municipalities to regidate billboard advertising. 

VIII. Methods of regulation for the control of billboard advertis- 

ing in American and foreign cities. 

United States: 

Buffalo, 

Rochester, 

Milwaukee, 

St. Louis, 

Chicago, 

Los Angeles. 
England: 

London, 

Liverpool, 

Manchester. 

Scotland: 

Glasgow. 
France: 

General. 

IX. Tentative suggestions for a new ordinance in New York. 

(Proposed amendment to Section 144, Chapter 15, Building Code, 
City of New York) : 







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BILLBOARD ADVERTISING IN NEW YORK CITY 



Billboard 



DEFINITIONS 



The word '' billboard " used in this report means any fence, 
hoarding, sign screen, or arrangement of boards, or any frame work, 
with facings resting upon or secured to the ground and intended or 
used for advertising purposes. 

Sky-Siyn 

The word '* sky-sign " signifies any superstructure displaying any 
letter, word, model, sign, device, or representation in the nature of an 
advertisement, announcement or direction, supported or attached 
wholly or in part over or above any wall, building or structure. 

This report deals only with billboards. The question of sky-signs 
will form the basis of a future report. 



EXTENT OF BUSINESS 

The extent to which the billboard business has grown is evident 
to any one who has occasion to pass through our streets. On every 
side, in every part of the city, whether in restricted residential loca- 
tions, park surroundings, or business sections, an unceasing exhibition 
of signs of every conceivable construction, color and form confronts 
the eye. 

The reports of the Bureaus of Buildings in the various boroughs 
show that there are approximately three thousand locations occupied 
for billboard advertising in the city. This figure does not include 
sky-signs. The capital stock of eight of the leading concerns engaged 
in the billboard business in the city amounts to nearly two million 
dollars. 

Area and Income 

There are approximately 3,700 billboards in the city, 25 per cent, 
of which, from actual inspection in the different boroughs, we have 
found to be of the double-decker character; that is, two signs, ten 
feet each in height, one placed above the other, making about 4,600 
facings for advertisements. In some instances there were three signs 
so placed, although the ordinances limit the height of wooden bill- 







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BILLBOARD ADVERTISING IN NEW YORK CITY 



Billboard 



DEFINITIONS 



The word *' billboard " used in this report means any fence, 
hoanhng, sign screen, or arran<^-ement of lioards, ur any frame work, 
with facings resting ni)on or secured to the ground and intended or 
used for advertising ])urposes. 

Sky-S'ujn 

The word " sky-sign '" signifies any sui)erstruclure (Hsplaying any 
letter, word, model, sign, device, or representation in the nature of an 
advertisement, announcement or direction, supported or attached 
wholly or in part over or al)ove any wall, building or structure. 

This re])ort deals only with billboards. The ([uestion of sky-signs 
will form the basis of a future report. 

EXTENT OF BUSINESS 

The extent to which the billboard business has grown i^ evident 
to any one who has occasion to pass through our streets. On every 
side, in every part of the city, whether in restricted residential loca- 
tions, ])ark surroundings, or business sections, an unceasing exhibition 
of signs of every conceivable construction, color and form confronts 
the eye. 

The reports of the IJureaus of Buildings in the various boroughs 
show that there are api)r()ximately three thousand locations occupied 
for billboard advertising in the city. This figure does not include 
sky-signs. The capital stock of eight of the leading concerns engaged 
ir. the billboard business in the city amounts to nearly two million 
dollars. 

.Irca and Income 

There are approximately 3,700 billboards in the city. 2? i)er cent, 
of which, from actual inspection in the different boroughs, we have 
found to be of the double-decker character; that is, two signs, ten 
feet each in height, one placed above the other, making about 4,000 
facings for advertisements. In some instances there were three signs 
so placed, although the ordinances limit the height of wooden bill- 



boards to ten feet and of metal billboards to 18 feet 6 inches. An 
estimate based upon actual measurements of 1,309 of these signs would 
indicate that there are 3,800,000 square feet of area surface for bill- 
board advertising in the city. 

The companies charge for the use of this space, where it is a bill- 
poster board, from one to two and one-half cents per square foot 
per month, or from twelve cents per square foot to thirty cents per 
square foot per annum. The charge for painted bulletins averages 
about eighteen cents per square foot per annum. These prices, how- 
ever, are for the ordinary locations in the city. The prices in the 
choice locations, such as the public squares, intersection of principal 
streets, etc., are considerably higher. The prices include the cost of 
posting the sheet, or painting the advertisement on the bulletin board. 

An estimate of the gross revenue to the advertising companies, 
based upon these figures, would indicate that they annually receive 
from the billboard advertising privilege in the city approximately one 
million dollars. It should be borne in mind that this figure deals only 
with billboards and does not include sky-signs, that is, signs erected 
upon walls or roofs of buildings. 

LEGAL CONTROL 

The erection of billboards and sky-signs in the City of New 
York is under the provisions of section 144 of the Building Code, as 



follows : 



'' Fences signs or billboards shall not be at any pomt over 
ten feet above the adjoining ground; except that when any 
fence, sign or billboard shall be constructed entirely of metal 
or of wood, covered on all sides with sheet metal, mcludmg 
the uprights, supports and braces for same, it shall not be at 
any point over eighteen feet six inches above the adjoining 

ground. 

*' Any letter, word, model, sign, device or representation in 
the nature of an advertisement, announcement or direction, sup- 
ported or attached, wholly or in part, over or above any wall, 
building or structure, shall be deemed to be a " sky-sign. 

" Sky-signs shall be constructed entirely of metal, including 
the uprights, supports and braces for same, and shall not be at 
any point over nine feet above the front wall or cornice of the 
building or structure to which they are attached or by which 

they are supported. , ,, , j 

" All fences, signs, billboards and sky-signs shall be erected 
entirely within the building line, and be properly secured, sup- 
ported and braced, and shall be so constructed as not to be or 
become dangerous. 

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boards to ten feet and of metal billboards to 18 feet 6 inches. An 
estimate based upon actual measurements of 1,309 of these signs would 
indicate that there are 3,800,000 square feet of area surface for bill- 
board advertising in the city. 

The companies charge for the use of this space, where it is a bill- 
poster board, from one to two and one-half cents per square foot 
per month, or from twelve cents per square foot to thirty cents per 
square foot per annum. The charge for painted bulletins averages 
about eighteen cents per square foot per annum. These prices, how- 
ever, are for the ordinary locations in the city. The prices in the 
choice locations, such as the public squares, intersection of principal 
streets, etc., are considerably higher. The prices include the cost of 
posting the sheet, or painting the advertisement on the bulletin board. 

An estimate of the gross revenue to the advertising companies, 
based upon these figures, would indicate that they annually receive 
from the billboard advertising privilege in the city approximately one 
million dollars. It should be borne in mind that this figure deals only 
with billboards and does not include sky-signs, that is, signs erected 
upon walls or roofs of buildings. 

LEGAL CONTROL 

The erection of billboards and sky-signs in the City of New 
York is under the provisions of section 1-14 of the Building Code, as 

follows : 

'^ Fences, -igns or billboards shall not be at any point over 
ten feet above the adjoining ground; except that when any 
fence, sign or billboard shall be constructed entirely of metal 
or of wood, covered on all sides with sheet metal, mcludmg 
the uprights, supports and braces for same, it shall not be at 
any point over eighteen feet six inches above the adjommg 

ground. 

'' Any letter, word, model, sign, device or representation in 
the nature of an advertisement, announcement or direction, sup- 
ported or attached, wholly or in part, over or abo.e anv wall, 
building or structure, shall be deemed to be a " sky-sign." 

" Sky-signs shall be constructed entirely of metal, including 
the uprights, supports and braces for same, and shall not be at 
any point over nine feet above the front wall or cornice of the 
building or structure to which they are attached or by which 
thev are supported. 

'" All fences, signs, billboards and sky-signs shall be erected 
entirely within the building line, and be properly secured, sup- 
ported' and braced, and shall be so constructed as not to be or 
become dangerous. 

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" Before the erection of any fence, sign, billboard or sky- 
sign shall have been commenced, a permit for the erection of 
the same shall be obtained from the Superintendent of Buildings 
having jurisdiction, as provided in part 2, section 4 of this 
Code. Each application for the erection of any fence, sign, 
billboard or sky-sign, shall be accompanied by a written con- 
sent of the owner or owners, or the lessee or lessees of the 
property upon which it is to be erected." 

That portion of the section which relates to sky-signs and signs 
erected on roofs was declared unconstitutional in a decision handed 
down in March, 1909, by the Court of Appeals (People ex rcl. Wein- 




Entrance to Riverside Drive, at Cathedral Parkway 

burgh Advertising Co. vs. the Superintendent of Buildings, 195 N. Y., 
126). In this case the court held that the provision of the ordinance 
referred to was not a valid exercise of the police power of the State 
in that it had no direct relation to public health and safety. In its 
opinion the court quoted from a case in 72 N. J. law, 285 (City of 
Passaic vs. Paterson Bill Posting Co.) : "Aesthetic considerations are 
a matter of luxury and indulgence rather than of necessity, and it is 

10 



' » 




Riverside Drive, 142d and 143d Streets 

necessity alone which justifies the exercise of the police power to take 
private property without compensation." 

In view of this decision by the Court of Appeals, it is highly prob- 
able that the other sections of the ordinance relating to billboards and 
fences are likewise unconstitutional on the same theory. No test case, 
however, has as yet been made of these sections, and the ordinance 
still holds. 



4 « 




Fifth Avenue and 109th Street 
II 



*' Before the erection of any fence, sign, billboard or sky- 
sign shall have been commenced, a permit for the erection of 
the same shall be obtained from the Superintendent of Buildings 
having jurisdiction, as provided in part 2, section 4 of this 
Code. Each application for the erection of any fence, sign, 
billboard or sky-sign, shall be accompanied by a written con- 
sent of the owner or owners, or the lessee or lessees of the 
property upon which it is to be erected." 

That portion of the section which relates to sky-signs and signs 
erected on roofs was declared unconstitutional in a decision handed 
down in March, 1909, by the Court of Appeals (People cs rcl. Wein- 




Entrance to Riverside Drive, at Cathedral Parkway 

burgh Advertising Co. :s. the Superintendent of Buildings, 195 N. Y., 
126). In this case the court held that the provision of the ordinance 
referred to was not a valid exercise of the police power of the State 
in that it had no direct relation to public health and safety. In its 
opinion the court (juoted from a case in 72 X. J. law, 2S5 ( City of 
Passaic is. Paterson l^ill Posting Co.): ''Aesthetic considerations are 
a matter of luxury and indulgence rather than of necessity, and it is 

10 



♦ 




Riverside Drive, 142d and 143d Streets 

necessity alone which justifies the exercise of the police power to take 
private property without compensation." 

In view of this decision by the Court of Appeals, it is highly prob- 
able that the other sections of the ordinance relating to billboards and 
fences are likewise unconstitutional on the same theory. No test case, 
however, has as yet been made of these sections, and the ordinance 
still holds. 




Fifth Avenue and 109th Street 
11 






VIOLATIONS 

In order to determine the extent to which the provisions of the 
building code are followed in the erection of billboards, an inspec- 
tion was made of five hundred billboards in diflferent locations through- 
out the Boroughs of Manhattan, The Bronx and Brooklyn. The re- 
sults of this inspection and an examination of the records of the 
Bureau of Buildings show that the law is constantly violated. Indeed, 
there is little or no attempt to enforce it. 

The first regulation of the Code to the effect that signs or billboards 
shall not be at any point over ten feet above the adjoining ground 
except when constructed entirely of metal, or of wood covered with 




Riverside Drive and 105th Street 



metal, was found to be violated in 412 instances out of 500 cases in- 
spected. Some of these were constructed entirely of wood; others 
were constructed of metal facings with wooden uprights, braces and 
supports. 

The second requirement limiting the height of metal billboards to 
18 feet 6 inches is almost entirely ignored. One hundred and eighty- 
eight instances were found in which violations of this nature occurred. 
These instances practically covered all the signs inspected which were 
constructed of metal or of wood covered with metal. In some cases 
signs were doubled and trebled, extending one on top of another to a 

12 



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VIOLATIONS 

In order to determine the extent to which the provisions of the 
building code are followed in the erection of billboards, an inspec- 
tion was made of five hundred billboards in different locations through- 
out the Boroughs of Manhattan, The Bronx and Brooklyn. The re- 
sults of this inspection and an examination of the records of the 
Bureau of Buildings show that the law is constantly violated. Indeed, 
there is little or no attempt to enforce it. 

The first regulation of the Code to the effect that signs or billboards 
shall not be at any point over ten feet above the adjoining ground 
except when constructed entirelv of metal, or of wood covered with 




Riverside Drive and 106th Street 



metal, was found to be violated in 412 instances out of 500 cases in- 
spected. Some of these were constructed entirely of wood ; others 
were constructed of metal facings with wooden uprights, braces and 
supports. 

The second requirement limiting the height of metal billboards to 
18 feet 6 inches is almost entirely ignored. One hundred and eighty- 
eight instances were found in which violations of this nature occurred. 
These instances ])ractically covered all the signs inspected which were 
constructed of metal or of wood covered with metal. In some cases 
signs were doubled anrl trebled, extending one on top of another to a 

12 



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Entrance to the new Bronx Court House at Third Avenue and 161st Street 

height of forty feet. One hundred and sixty-five signs were found 
extending beyond the building Hne. In ten cases signs were found to 
be in a dangerous condition because of fauUy construction, or lack of 
repair. In addition to these violations, other conditions were found 
to which attention is also directed. In 38 locations out of 335, in 
which such conditions were inspected, rubbish and litter were found 
at the base of the signs, or in near proximity thereto. 

Some of the conditions around billboards are illustrated by the 
following excerpts from inspectors' reports: 

" At the base of this sign are a number of cans, stones, wood, 
paper and rubbish. The space in the rear of the sign is used 
for a public toilet. The odor emanating from the spot is nause- 
ating." 

14 



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This sign is on public property at the entrance to one of the largest 
parks in the city. 

" At the base of the sign are tin cans, stones, dirt, a dead dog, 
and paper and rubbish. In the rear evidences exist that the 
place is being used for a public toilet. The odor is sickening." 

This sign is on the middle east side in a thickly populated locality. 

" The sign is broken, and in places the metal facing is loose 
and torn away from the uprights. There is a large o})ening 
leading into a lot filled with straw and rubbish. The rear of 
the sign is used as a public toilet." 

This sign is situated on the lower west side of the city. 

'' Nailed against the billboards are three small w^ooden 
structures, filled with all kinds of rubbish and inflammable 
materials. The metal is torn away from the frame and hanging 
against the front of the sign." 

This sign is located in the upper section of Brooklyn. 
Inspection disclosed thirteen billboards situated along the most 
picturesque part of Riverside Drive, between 96th street and 143d 




Entrance to Central Park at 110th Street, Lenox Avenue and St. Nicholas Avenue 




Entrance to the new Bronx Court House at Third Avenue and 161st Street 

heiglit of forty feet. One hundred and sixty-tive signs were found 
extending beyond the buiUhng h'nc. In ten cases signs were found to 
be in a dangerous condition because of faulty construction, or lack of 
repair. In addition to these violations, other conditions were found 
to which attention is also directed. In 38 locations out of 335, in 
which such conditions were inspected, rubbish and litter were found 
at the base of the signs, or in near proximity thereto. 

Some of the conditions around billboards are illustrated bv the 
following excerpts from inspectors' reports: 

" At the base of this sign are a number of cans, stones, wood, 
paper and rubbish. The space in the rear of the sign is used 
for a i)ul)lic toilet. The odor emanating from the spot is nause- 



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This sign is on public property at the entrance to one of the largest 
parks in the city. 

'* At the base of the sign are tin cans, stones, dirt, a dead dog, 
and paper and rubbish. In the rear evidences exist that the 
place is being used for a public toilet. The odor is sickening." 

This sign is on the middle east side in a thickly populated locality. 

" The sign is broken, and in places the metal facing is loose 
and torn away from the uprights. There is a large opening 
leading into a lot filled with straw and rubbish. The rear of 
the sign is used as a public toilet." 

This sign is situated on the lower west side of the city. 

" Xailed against the billboards are three small wooden 
structures, filled with all kinds of rubbish and infiammal)le 
materials. The metal is torn away from the frame and hanging 
against the front of the sign." 

This sign is located in the u])per section of Brooklyn. 
Inspection disclosed thirteen billboards situated along the most 
pictures(iue part of Riverside Drive, between 96th street and 143d 




Entrance to Central Park at 110th Street, Lenox Avenue and St. Nicholas Avenue 



14 



street, all of which are in violation of the requirements of the law 
concerning the height and nature of construction. Forty-one locations 
of signs around Central Park were inspected, and in 33 of these it was 
found that the law was violated in regard to the height and material 
used. Similarly at the bridge terminals, instances were discovered of 
flagrant violations of the code requirements. Seventy-five per cent 
of the frames of all the signs inspected were constructed entirely of 
wood or of wood partly covered with metal, in violation of law. 




Fifth Avenue, 89th and 90th Streets, Opposite Central Park, Adjoining the Residence of 

Andrew Carnegie 



I 



CLASS OF ADVERTISEMENTS 

Except in the outlying districts billboards are rarely used by the 
merchants of the city for advertising purposes. Invariably the adver- 
tisements are made up of the following: 

Whiskies, 

Wines, 

Beers, 

Gins, 

Tobacco, 

Cigarettes, 

Patent medicines. 

Teas, 

Chewing gum. 

Soaps, 

Breakfast foods. 

Amusements. 



16 



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street, all of which are in violation of the requirements of the law 
concerning the height and nature of construction. Forty-one locations 
of signs around Central Park were inspected, and in 33 of these it was 
found that the law was violated in regard to the height and material 
used. Similarly at the bridge terminals, instances wxre discovered of 
flagrant violations of the code requirements. Seventy-five per cent 
of the frames of all the signs inspected were constructed entirely of 
wood or of wood partly covered with metal, in violation of law. 




Fifth Avenue, 89th and 90th Streets, Opposite Central Park, Adjoining the Residence of 

Andrew Carnegie 

CLASS OF ADVERTISEMENTS 

Except in the outlying districts billboards are rarely used by the 
merchants of the city for advertising purposes. Invariably the adver- 
tisements are made up of the following: 

Whiskies, 

Wines, 

Beers, 

Gins, 

Tobacco, 

Cigarettes, 

Patent medicines, 

Teas, 

Chewing gum, 

Soaps, 

P>reakfast foods, 

Amusements. 



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16 



NECESSITY FOR REGULATION BY THE CITY 

In view of the extensive growth of billboard advertising within 
the last few years, the necessity for regulation by municipal or state 
authorities is at once apparent. Billboards are dangerous to health 
if they are not safely constructed and located. This was shown in 
the San Francisco disaster, where they served as firebrands in spread- 
ing the conflagration. They are a menace to health if they enclose 
spaces which become dumping grounds for refuse and filth. They are 
especially dangerous to health when constructed so as to shut out light 
and air from buildings. 

Perhaps the strongest argument for their control, however, is based 
on aesthetic considerations. Not only are billboards ugly in them- 
selves, but they mar the sightliness of every structure about them, so 
that real estate values are often affected by their presence. Beauty of 
environment is an asset of permanent value, and the surrounding prop- 
erty cannot be defaced without affecting materially the property in 
the entire neighborhood. The city of New York annually spends 
millions of dollars on public buildings, monuments and parks. No 
public work is attempted without due regard to aesthetic considera- 
tions, which enter largely into the cost of construction. Millions of 
dollars are annually expended from private sources for the same pur- 
pose. The uncontrolled erection of large and blatant billboards in 
juxtaposition to these studied architectural effects is not only an incon- 
sistent public policy but is unquestionably an injury to the general 
welfare. 

A REVIEW OF COURT DECISIONS 

The chief difficulties in the way of putting an effective legal check 
upon billboards are to be found in the decisions of the courts. In many 
states legislative enactments regulating the use and heighth of bill- 
boards have been declared unconstitutional on the ground that they 
did not involve a proper exercise of the police power. The courts have 
been slow in their interpretation of the police power to include ele- 
ments of the aesthetic. Thus in Bryan against the City of Chester, 212 
Pennsylvania State, 259, decided in 1905, the Court held: 

" A municipality has no power to enact an ordinance for- 
bidding citizens to erect billboards on their property merely be- 
cause such boards are unsightly or may become a nuisance. 
A municipality may prohibit the erection of insecure boards 
within its limits, prevent the exhibition of immoral or indecent 
advertisements or pictures, and protect the community from 
any actual nuisances resulting from the use of them, but it can 
go no further." 

18 



.. 



4 



In the case of Crawford against Topeka, Kan., 756, decided in 
1893, the Court said : 

" In general, an owner has the right to erect such buildings 
or structures upon his property as he pleases, and may put the 
premises to any use as may suit his pleasure, provided he does 
not in doing so annoy, injure or threaten harm to others." 

The Metropolitan Park Commission of Massachusetts under author- 
ity of statute granting them the power to make 





</^\ i 




'^^^0^^r .'„^^->' 




. ,4 




Central Park West and 62d Street, Adjoining Century Theatre 

" such reasonable rules and regulations respecting the display 
of signs, posters and advertisements in or near to and visible 
from public parks and parkways," 

passed a regulation prohibiting the maintenance of business signs so 
near a parkway as to be plainly visible to the naked eye of persons 
passing along the parkway. A test case (Commonwealth vs. Boston 
Advertising Co., 188 Mass., 348) arose over a sign placed near the 
Revere Beach Parkway and the court declared the regulation not to be 
a '* reasonable one and contrary to the provisions of the constitution in 
taking property for a public use without providing compensation." 

19 



NECESSITY FOR REGULATION BY THE CITY 

In view of the extensive growth of billboard advertising within 
the last few years, the necessity for regulation by nnmicipal or state 
authorities is at once apparent. Billboards are dangerous to health 
if they are not safely constructed and located. This was shown in 
the San Francisco disaster, where they served as firebrands in spread- 
ing the conflagration. They are a menace to health if they enclose 
spaces which become dumping grounds for refuse and filth. They are 
especially dangerous to health when constructed so as to shut out light 
and air from buildings. 

Perhaps the strongest argument for their control, however, is based 
on aesthetic considerations. Not only are billboards ugly in them- 
selves, but they mar the sightliness of every structure about them, so 
that real estate values are often affected by their presence. Beauty of 
environment is an asset of permanent value, and the surrounding prop- 
erty cannot be defaced without aft'ecting materially the property in 
the entire neighborhood. The city of New York annually spends 
millions of dollars on public buildings, monuments and parks. No 
public work is attempted without due regard to aesthetic considera- 
tions, which enter largely into the cost of construction. ^lillions of 
dollars are annually expended from private sources for the same pur- 
pose. The uncontrolled erection of large and blatant billboards in 
juxtaposition to these studied architectural effects is not only an incon- 
sistent public policy but is unquestionably an injury to the general 
welfare. 

A REVIEW OF COURT DECISIONS 

The chief difticulties in the way of putting an eft'ective legal check 
upon billboards are to be found in the decisions of the courts. In many 
states legislative enactments regulating the use and heighth of bill- 
boards have been declared unconstitutional on the ground that they 
did not involve a j^roper exercise of the police power. The courts have 
been slow in their interpretation of the police power to include ele- 
ments of the aesthetic. Thus in Bryan against the City of Chester. 212 
Pennsylvania State, 259, decided in 1905, the Court held: 

" A municipality has no power to enact an ordinance for- 
bidding citizens to erect billboards on their property merely be- 
cause such boards are unsightly or may become a nuisance. 
A municipality may prohibit the erection of insecure boards 
within its limits, prevent the exhibition of immoral or indecent 
advertisements or pictures, and protect the comnnmity from 
any actual nuisances resulting from the use of them, but it can 
go no further." 

18 



^ m 



I . 






In the case of Crawford against Topeka, Kan., 756, decided in 
1893, the Court said : 

" In general, an owner has the right to erect such buildings 
or structures upon his property as he pleases, and may put the 
])remises to any use as may suit his pleasure, provided he does 
not in doing s<j annoy, injure or threaten harm to others." 

The Metropolitan Park Commission of ^Massachusetts under author- 
ity of statute granting them the power to make 




Central Park West and 62d Street, Adjoining Century Theatre 

" such reasonable rules and regulations respecting the display 
of signs, posters and advertisements in or near to and visible 
from public parks and parkways," 

passed a regulation prohibiting the maintenance of business signs so 
near a parkway as to be plainly visible to the naked eye of persons 
passing along the parkway. A test case (Commonwealth z'S. Boston 
Advertising Co., 188 Mass., 348) arose over a sign placed near the 
Revere Beach Parkway and the court declared the regulation not to be 
a '* reasonable one and contrary to the provisions of the constitution in 
taking property for a public use without providing comj^ensation." 

19 



i r 



*' This is purely an attempt to protect the aesthetic sense, hence invalid," 
said the court. 

In the case of the City of San Jose vs. Varney & Green, 100 Pac, 
867, the Supreme Court of California held a regulatory ordinance 
invalid. In this opinion the Court said : 

" Bearing in mind that the ordinance does not purport to 
have any relation to the protection of passers-by from injury 
by reason of unsafe structures, to the diminution of hazard of 
fire, or to the prevention of immoral plays, we find that the one 
ground upon which the Town Council may be thought to have 
acted, is that the appearance of billboards is, or may be, offensive 
to the sight of refined taste. That the promotion of aesthetic 
or artistic consideration is a proper object of governmental 
care will probably not be disputed. But so far as we are advised, 
it has never held that these conditions alone will justify an exer- 
cise of the police power, a radical restriction of the right of an 
owner of property to use his property in an ordinary and bene- 
ficial way. Such restriction is, if not taking, pro tanto, of the 
property, a damaging thereof for which under article 1, sec- 
tion 14 of the Constitution the owner is entitled to compensa- 
tion. In most or all of the cases dealing with prohibition of 







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Signs Along Eastern Parkway Opposite the Brooklyn Institute Museum 

20 




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** This is purely an attempt to protect the aesthetic sense, hence invaUd," 
said the court. 

In the case of the City of San Jose I'S. \ arney & Green, 100 Pac, 
867, the Supreme Court of CaHfornia held a regulatory ordinance 
invalid. In this opinion the Court said : 

" liearing in mind that the ordinance does not purport to 
have any relation to the protection of passers-hy from injury 
l)v reason of unsafe structures, to the diminution of hazard of 
fire, or to the prevention of immoral plays, we find that the one 
ground upon which the Town Council may he thought to have 
acted, is that the appearance of hillhoards is, or may be, oflfensive 
to the sight of refined taste. That the promotion of aesthetic 
or artistic consideration is a proper object of governmental 
care will probably not be disputed, lint so far as we are advised, 
it has never held that these conditions alone will justify an exer- 
cise of the police power, a radical restriction of the right of an 
owner of property to use his property in an ordinary and bene- 
ficial way. Such restriction is, if not taking, pro tanto, of the 
property, a damaging thereof for which under article 1, sec- 
tion 14 of the Constitution the owner is entitled to compensa- 
tion. In most or all of the cases dealing with prohibition of 




r 



Signs Along Eastern Parkway Opposite the Brooklyn Institute Museum 

20 




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Plaza at Entrance to Williamsburgh Bridge, South Side 

the right to erect or maintain billhoards, it is recognized that 
the legislature may, under the police power, prohibit advertise- 
ments of indecent or immoral tendencies, or signs dangerous to 
the physical safety of the powers or property of the public. 
* * * We are not here, however, concerned with the extent 
to which the legislative power may, in the efifort to protect the 
public safety or morals, regulate the manner of erecting or 
using billboards. The ordinance in question does not attempt 
such regulation, but undertakes to absolutely forbid the erection 
or maintenance of any billboard for advertising purposes. We 
have no doubt that this sweeping prohibition was beyond the 
power of the town trustees." 

There are other decisions, however, particularly those of recent 
date, which show a growing tendency on the part of the Courts to 
recognize the fact that an offense to the eye is just as much a nuisance 
as an offense to the ear or nose, and that the power of the State to place 
restrictions on the use of private property for the purpose of promot- 
ing the beauty and attractiveness of the street, parks and buildings is 
as valid an exercise of authority as restrictions against offensive sounds 

22 



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Plaza at Entrance to Williamsburgh Bridge, South Side 

the right to erect or maintain billhoards. it is recognized that 
the legislature may, under the police power, prohibit advertise- 
ments of indecent or immoral tendencies, or signs dangerous to 
the physical safety of the powers or property of the public. 
* * * We are not here, however, concerned with the extent 
to which the legislative power may, in the effort to protect the 
public safety or morals, regulate the manner of erecting or 
using billboards. The ordinance in question does not attempt 
such regulation, but undertakes to absolutely forbid the erection 
or maintenance of any billboard for advertising purposes. We 
have no doubt that this sweeping prohibition was beyond the 
power of the town trustees." 

There are other decisions, however, particularly those of recent 
date, which show a growing tendency on the ])art of the Courts to 
recognize the fact that an offense to the eye is just as much a nuisance 
as an offense to the ear or nose, and that the power of the State to place 
restrictions on the use of private property for the ])urpose of promot- 
ing the beauty and attractiveness of the street, parks and buildings is 
as valid an exercise of authority as restrictions against offensive sounds 

22 



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and odors. Thus in the case of Welch against Swasey, 193 Mass., 364, 
the Court said : 

"The inhabitants of a city or town cannot be compelled to 
give up rights in property or to pay taxes for purely aesthetic 
objects, but if the primary and substantive purpose of the legis- 
lation is such as to justify the act, considerations of taste and 
beauty may enter as auxiliaries." . 

The Maryland Court of Appeals in 1908, Cochran vs. Preston, 70 
Atlantic, 113, went even further than the Massachusetts decision to 
admit aesthetic intent of an act of the legislature. The case arose over 
the validity of a legislative enactment providing that no building to 
exceed seventy feet high, except a church, shall be erected in a desig- 
nated portion in the City of Baltimore, in the center of which stands 
the Washington monument. Counsel for the appellant argued that the 
motive behind the act of the legislature was purely aesthetic and that 
the police power will not justify a taking of private property without 
compensation to promote a purely aesthetic purpose. He referred to 
the statement in Tiedeman which says: 

" Regulations which are designed only to enforce upon the 
people the legislative conception of artistic beauty and sym- 
metry will not be sustained, however much such regulations may 
be needed for the artistic education of the people." 

The Court makes this significant reply: 

" Such is undoubtedly the weight of authority, though it 
may be that in the development of a higher civilization the cul- 
ture and refinement of the people has reached the point where 
the educational value of fine arts, as expressed and embodied 
in architectural symmetry and harmony, is so well recognized 
as to give sanction under some circumstance to the exercise of 
this (police) power even for such purposes. * * * 

" The object of the Act is not merely to preserve the archi- 
tectural beauty of the locality but also to avoid the increased 
danger from fire which arises from tall buildings in the event 
of a general conflagration, and since the object of the act is to 
promote the public welfare, and the means prescribed are appro- 
priate thereto, the statute is valid and is not a denial of the 
equal protection of the law." 

One of the most satisfactory decisions, which has recently been 
handed down, is the case of St. Louis Gunning Advertisement Co. 
against the City of St. Louis, 137 S. W. R., 929, which was decided in 
May, 1911. The ordinance, the validity of which was disputed, pro- 
vided : 

(a) No billboard shall exceed fourteen feet in height. 

24 



,1 




Riverside Drive and 109th Street 

(b) Billboards shall have open spaces of four feet from the lower 
edge to the ground. 

(c) None to be nearer than six feet to a building or the side line of 
any lot or nearer than two feet to any other billboard. 

(d) Not to be over five hundred square feet in area or closer to the 
street line by nearer than fifteen feet. 

Judge Woodson, who wrote the majority opinion, held that the 
ordinance was valid. Part of his decision is as follows: 

" This is a legitimate and honorable business, if honorably 
and legitimately conducted, but every other feature and incident 
thereto have evil tendencies, and should for that reason be 
strictly regulated and controlled.--^ The signboards and billboards 
upon which this class of advertisements are displayed are con- 
stant menaces to the public safety and welfare of the city ; they 
endanger the public health, promote immorality, constitute hiding 
■places and retreats for criminals and all classes of miscreants. 
They are also inartistic and unsightly. In cases of fire they 
often cause their spread and constitute barriers against their ex- 

25 



\ 



and odors. Thus in the case of Welch against Swasey, 193 Mass., 364, 
the Court said: 

" The inhabitants of a city or town cannot be compelled to 
give up rights in property or to pay taxes for purely aesthetic 
objects, but if the primary and substantive purpose of the legis- 
lation is such as to justify the act, considerations of taste and 
beauty may enter as auxiliaries." 

The ^laryland Court of Appeals in 1908, Cochran z's. Preston, 70 
Atlantic, 113, went even further than the Txlassachusetts decision to 
admit aesthetic intent of an act of the legislature. The case arose over 
the validity of a legislative enactment providing that no building to 
exceed seventy feet high, except a church, shall be erected in a desig- 
nated portion in the City of Baltimore, in the center of which stands 
the Washington monument. Counsel for the appellant argued that the 
motive behind the act of the legislature was purely aesthetic and that 
the police power will not justify a taking of private property without 
compensation to promote a purely aesthetic purpose. He referred to 
the statement in Tiedcman which says: 

'' Regulations which are designed only to enforce upon the 
people the legislative conception of artistic beauty and sym- 
metry will not be sustained, however much such regulations may 
be needed for the artistic education of the people." 

The Court makes this significant reply: 

" Such is undoubtedly the weight of authority, though it 
may be that in the development of a higher civilization the cul- 
ture and refinement of the people has reached the point where 
the educational value of fine arts, as expressed and embodied 
in architectural symmetry and harmony, is so well recognized 
as to give sanction under some circumstance to the exercise of 
this (police) power even for such purposes. * * * 

'' The object of the Act is not merely to preserve the archi- 
tectural beauty of the locality but also to avoid the increased 
danger from fire which arises from tall buildings in the event 
of a general conflagration, and since the object of the act is to 
promote the public welfare, and the means prescribed are appro- 
priate thereto, the statute is valid and is not a denial of the 
equal protection of the law." 

One of the most satisfactory decisions, which has recently been 
handed down, is the case of St. Louis Gunning Advertisement Co. 
ag-ainst the City of St. Louis, 137 S. W. R., 929, which was decided in 
May, 1911. The ordinance, the validity of which was disputed, pro- 
vided : 

(a) No billboard shall exceed fourteen feet in height. 

24 



) 



> 




Riverside Drive and 109th Street 

(b) Billboards shall have open spaces of four feet from the lower 
edge to the ground. 

(c) None to be nearer than six feet to a building or the side line of 
any lot or nearer than two feet to any other billboard. 

(d) Not to be over five hundred square feet in area or closer to the 
street line by nearer than fifteen feet. 

Judge Woodson, who wrote the majority opinion, held that the 
ordinance was valid. Part of his decision is as follows : 

" This is a legitimate and honorable business, if honorably 
and legitimately conducted, but every other feature and incident 
thereto have evil tendencies, and should for that reason be 
strictly regulated and controlled.- The signboards and billboards 
upon which this class of advertisements are displayed are con- 
stant menaces to the public safety and welfare of the city ; they 
endanger the public health, promote immorality, constitute hiding 
places and retreats for criminals and all classes of miscreants. 
They are also inartistic and unsightly. In cases of fire they 
often cause their spread and constitute barriers against their ex- 

25 



> I 



\ 



tinction ; and in cases of high wind, their temporary character, 
frail structure and broad surface, render them liable to be blown 
down and to fall upon and injure those who may happen to be 
Jn their vicinity.. The evidence shows and common observation 
teaches us that the ground to the rear thereof is being constantly 
used as privies and dumping ground for all kinds of waste and 
deleterious matters, thereby creating public nuisances and 
jeopardizing ])ublic health; the evidence also shows that behind 
these obstructions the lowest form of prostitution and other 
acts of immorality are frequently carried on. almost under public 
gaze ; they offer shelter and concealment for the criminal while 
lying in wait for his victim ; and last, but not least, they obstruct 
the light, sunshine and air. which are so conducive to health 
and comfort. * * * j\^q amount of good contained in this 
class of business is so small in comparison to the great and 
numerous evils incident thereto that it has caused me to wonder 
why some of the courts of the country have seen fit to go as 
far as they have in holding statutes and ordinances of this class 
void, which were only designed for the suppression of the evils 
incident thereto and not to the suppression of the business h- 
5^1 f. * * *XMy individual opinion is that this class of ad- 
vertising as now conducted is not only subject to control and 
regulation by the police power of the state, but that it might be 
entirely suppressed by statute, and that. too. without offending 
against either the state or federal constitution." 

Judge Ross of the United States Circuit Court for the Southern 
District of California, in an opinion delivered in 1900, took a position 
even in advance of that subsequently adopted by the St. Louis decision 
above quoted fin the ^Matter of Wilshire, 103 Fed. Rep., 620). Judge 
Ross said in part as follows : 

** The views in and about a city, if beautiful and unob- 
structed, constitute one of its chief attractions, and in a way 
add to the comfort and well-being of its people. Billboards for 
advertising purposes erected to any great height would undoubt- 
edly be subjected to all of these as well as other objections, and 
such structures are therefore plainly within the regulating power 
of the governing body of a city." 

The decisions in New York State are rather unsatisfactory. The 
Weinberg case (People c.v rcl. Weinberg Advertising Company against 
the Superintendent of Buildings, 195 N. Y., 126) has already been 
cited. In this case the Court quoted with approval the case of the 
City of Chicago against the Gunning System, 214 111., 628, as follows: 

" The purpose seems to be mainly sentimental and to prevent 
sights which may be offensive to the aesthetic sensibilities of cer- 
tain individuals residing or passing through the vicinity of bill- 
board." 

26 



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tinction ; and in cases of high wind, their temporary character, 
frail structure and broad surface, render them Hable to be blown 
down and to fall upon and injure those who may happen to be 
in their vicinity. The evidence shows and common observation 
teaches us that the ground to the rear thereof is being constantly 
used as privies and dumping ground for all kinds of waste and 
deleterious matters, thereby creating public nuisances and 
jeopardiziui^ ])ublic health; the evidence also shows that behind 
these obstructions the lowest form of prostitution and other 
acts of immorality are frequently carried on, almost under public 
gaze ; they ofifer shelter and concealment for the criminal while 
lying in wait for his victim ; and last, but not least, they obstruct 
the light, sunshine and air, which are so conducive to health 
and comfort. * * * jj^^ amount of good contained in this 
class of business is so small in comparison to the great and 
numerous evils incident thereto that it has caused me to wonder 
why some of the courts of the country have seen fit to go as 
far as they have in holding statutes and ordinances of this class 
void, which were only designed for the suppression of the evils 
incident thereto and not to the suppression of the business it- 
^p]f >fc * * Aly individual opinion is that this class of ad- 
vertising as now conducted is not only subject to rontrol and 
regulation by the police power of the state, but that it might be 
entirely su])pressed by statute, and that, too, without offending 
against either the state or federal constitution." 

Judge Ross of the I'nited States Circuit Court for the Southern 
District of California, in an opinion delivered in 1900, took a position 
even in advance of that subsequently adopted by the St. Louis decision 
above quoted (in the Matter of Wilshire, 103 Fed. Rep., 620). Judge 
Ross said in part as follows: 

"' The views in and about a city, if beautiful and unob- 
structed, constitute one of its chief attractions, and in a way 
add to the comfort and well-being of its peo])le. Billboards for 
advertising puri)oses erected to any great height would undoubt- 
edly be subjected to all of these as well as otlier objections, and 
such structures are therefore plainly within the regulating power 
of the governing body of a city." 

The decisions in New York State are rather unsatisfactory. The 
Weinberg case fPeo])le c.v rcl. Weinberg Advertising Company against 
the Superintendent of lUiildings, 195 N. Y., 126) has already been 
cited. In this case the Court cjuoted with approval the case of the 
City of Chicago against the Gunning System, 214 111., 628, as follows: 

'* The ])urpose seems to be mainly sentimental and to prevent 
sights which may be offensive to the aesthetic sensibilities of cer- 
tain individuals residing or passing through the vicinity of bill- 
board." 

26 



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Plaza at Entrance to Williamsburg Bridge, North Side, Brooklyn 

An ordinance of the City of Rochester, however, which prohibited 
the erection of billboards exceeding six feet in height, except with the 
permission of the Common Council, was declared constitutional. 

As we noted above, the constitutionality of the present ordinance 
in New York Citv has not vet been tested. 



REGULATION 



OF BILLBOARD ADVERTISING IN AMERICAN 
AND FOREIGN CITIES 



Billboard advertising in New York, as we have shown, is prac- 
tically unregulated as far as municipal authority is concerned. It 
would seem, therefore, that it has become a subject for definite action 
leading to some specific means of control. With the idea of determin- 
ing what methods might best be adopted, we secured from 24 of the 
large cities in the United States and Canada, England and Scotland, 
copies of the ordinances or laws controlling this class of business. An 
abstract of these regulations shows that the dominant idea upon which 
they are based is the danger of billboards to life from wind and fire, 

28 



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Plaza at Entrance to Williamsburg Bridge, North Side, Brooklyn 

An ordinance of the City of Rochester, however, which prohibited 
the erection of billboards exceeding six feet in height, except with the 
permission of the Common Council, was declared constitutional. 

As we noted above, the constitutionality of the present ordinance 
in Xew York Citv has not vet been tested. 



REGULATION 



OF BILUBOARD ADVERTISING IN AMERICAN 
AND FOREIGN CITIES 



1 billboard advertising in New York, as we have shown, is prac- 
tically unregulated as far as municipal authority is concerned. It 
would seem, therefore, that it has become a subject for definite action 
leading to some specific means of control. With the idea of determin- 
ing what methods might best be adopted, we secured from 24 of the 
large cities in the United States and Canada, England and Scotland, 
copies of the ordinances or laws controlling this class of business. An 
abstract of these regulations shows that the dominant idea upon which 
they are based is the danger of billboards to life from wind and fire, 

28 



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and the damage to the morals of the community by reason of the class 
of advertisements shown. Aesthetic considerations also enter in. In 
many of the laws, provisions are found restraining the erection of 
signs in certain locations, for example, in residential sections or in the 
neighborhood of parks, schools and churches. A brief abstract of the 
regulations in force in some of these cities follows : 

Buffalo. 

Special attention to danger from fire is given in the regulations of 
the City of Buffalo. The ordinances provide that no fence or bill- 
board shall be erected more than seven feet in height without a permit 
from the fire commissioners and the deputy building commissioner, and 
thereafter the permission of the common council. A violation is 
punishable by a fine of $25 to $150. 

Rochester. 

No person is allowed to erect any billboard more than 6 feet in 
height without permission of the Bureau of Buildings. An applicant 
for permission to erect a billboard of combustible material is required 
to give one week's notice in writing, personally or by mail, of such 
application to the owners, occupants or agents of all houses and lots 
within a distance of 100 feet from where such billboard is to be 
erected. Such application is not considered by the Bureau of Build- 
ings without verified proof of the service of the notices required or the 
written consent of such owners, occupants or agents to the erection of 
the billboard. Billboards more than seven feet in height must be con- 
structed entirely of incombustible material, securely braced and fast- 
ened, and erected in accordance with the plans approved by the Bureau 
of Buildings. 

Milwaukee. 

Billboards are limited to a height of twelve feet with an open space 
at the bottom of not less than two feet. The provisions declare that 
the billboards shall be capable of withstanding a wind pressure of not 
less than forty pounds per square foot, and if within fire limits shall 
be constructed entirely of incombustible material. The metal plate 
issued with the permit must be attached to the structure. Fees are 
exacted for the permit and a charge is made for the plate. 

St. Louis. 

As a result of a campaign waged against the evil of billboard 
advertising by the Civic League of St. Louis, ordinances were adopted 



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and the damage to the morals of the community by reason of the class 
of advertisements shown. Aesthetic considerations also enter in. In 
many of the laws, provisions are found restraining the erection of 
signs in certain locations, for example, in residential sections or in the 
neighborhood of parks, schools and churches. A brief abstract of the 
regulations in force in some of these cities follows : 

Buffalo. 

Special attention to danger from fire is given in the regulations of 
the City of Buffalo. The ordinances provide that no fence or bill- 
board shall be erected more than seven feet in height without a permit 
from the hre commissioners and the deputy building commissioner, and 
thereafter the permission of the common council. A violation is 
punishable by a fine of %2^ to $150. 

Rochester. 

No person is allowed to erect any billboard more than 6 feet in 
height without permission of the Bureau of Buildings. An applicant 
for permission to erect a billboard of combustible material is recjuircd 
to give one week's notice in writing, personally or by mail, of such 
application to the owners, occupants or agents of all houses and lots 
within a distance of 100 feet from where such billboard is to be 
erected. Such application is not considered by the Bureau of Build- 
ings without verified ])roof of the service of the notices required or the 
written consent of such owners, occupants or agents to the erection of 
the billboard. Billboards more than seven feet in height must be con- 
structed entirely of incombustible material, securely braced and fast- 
ened, and erected in accordance with the ]:)lans approved by the lUireau 
of Buildings. 

Milivankce. 

Billboards are limited to a height of twelve feet with an open space 
at the bottom of not less than two feet. The provisions declare that 
the billboards shall be capable of withstanding a wind pressure of not 
less than forty pounds per square foot, and if within fire limits shall 
be constructed entirely of incombustible material. The metal plate 
issued with the permit must be attached to the structure. Fees are 
exacted for the permit and a charge is made for the plate. 

St. Louis. 

As a result of a campaign waged against the evil of billboard 
advertising by the Civic League of St. Louis, ordinances were adopted 

30 



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limiting the height of billboards to fourteen feet above the ground. 
For sanitary purposes a space of four feet is required between the 
lower edge of the billboard and the ground. To eliminate the fire risk 
as far as possible, no billboard is allowed to be erected nearer than six 
feet to any building or nearer than two feet to any other billboard, 
and must not approach the street nearer than fifteen feet. Fees are 
exacted for the issuance of the permit, based upon a charge of $1 for 
every five linear feet. 

Chicago. 

The ordinances provide that no billboard shall be erected or main- 
tained within the city unless a permit shall have been secured from 
the Commissioner of Buildings, to whom application must be made 
and plans and specifications of the proposed billboard submitted. Per- 
mits are issued upon the payment of a fee of $2 for every twenty-five 
linear feet, together with an annual charge to cover the cost of inspec- 
tion. A bond is required in the sum of $25,000 from every person or 
corporation engaged in such advertising business to indemnify the 
city from any losses by reason of any accidents resulting from such 
structures. Billboards within the fire limits are not allowed to exceed 
twelve feet in height, and must be constructed of incombustible mate- 
rial, except stringers, uprights and braces, which may be of wood. 
The total height of sign above the ground must not exceed fifteen feet 
six inches, and a space of three feet six inches allowed between the 
bottom of the board and the ground. Wooden billboards are limited 
to a size not exceeding twelve square feet in area. All billboards must 
be constructed of sufficient strength to withstand a wind pressure of 
twenty-five pounds to a square foot of surface. Billboards are not 
allowed to be constructed on any block where one-half of the buildings 
are used for residential purposes without obtaining consent in writing 
from a majority of the frontage. 

Los Angeles. 

Ordinances in this city prohibit the erection of billboards in sec- 
tions of the city set apart for residential purposes. 

London, England. 

The City of London f\'arious Powers Act., 1911) regulates the 
construction of hoards and scaffolds and the advertisements placed 
thereon, and projections such as swinging signs extending from the 
front of buildings, ^^ery little, however, appears to have been done 
in the wav of specific ree^ulations afi^ecting billboard advertising. 

32 



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Liverpool, England. 

The Liverpool Improvement Act of 1882 provides (section 76, sub- 
division 2) that it shall be unlawful to erect any hoard or similar 
structure, to be used either partly or wholly for advertising purposes, 
abutting or adjoining any street, to a greater height than fifteen feet 
above the level of such street without the consent of the corporation 
upon plans submitted; it further provides that the structure shall be 
kept in proper repair, and all papers or posters taken or falling there- 
from shall be removed immediately. 




Eastern Parkway Opposite Prospect Park Plaza. Signs to Left on City Property 

A penalty of five pounds and a daily penalty of twenty shillings 
during the existence of a violation are imposed. 

Manchester, England. 

Under section 18 of the Manchester Corporation Act of 1891 the 
city licenses the erection of billboards or hoardings. Plans are re- 

33 



limiting the height of billboards to fourteen feet above the ground. 
For sanitary purposes a space of four feet is required between the 
lower edge of the billboard and the ground. To eliminate the fire risk 
as far as possible, no billboard is allowed to be erected nearer than six 
feet to any building or nearer than two feet to any other billboard, 
and must not approach the street nearer than fifteen feet. Fees are 
exacted for the issuance of the permit, based upon a charge of SI for 
every five linear feet. 

Chicago. 

The ordinances provide that no billboard shall be erected or main- 
tained within the city unless a permit shall have been secured from 
the Commissioner of Buildings, to whom application must be made 
and plans and specifications of the proposed billboard submitted. Per- 
mits are issued upon the payment of a fee of $2 for every twenty-five 
linear feet, together with an annual charge to cover the cost of inspec- 
tion. A bond is required in the sum of $25,000 from every person or 
corporation engaged in such advertising business to indemnify the 
citv from anv losses bv reason of anv accidents resultinor from such 
structures. Billboards within the fire limits are not allowed to exceed 
twelve feet in height, and must be constructed of incombustible mate- 
rial, except stringers, uprights and braces, which may be of wood. 
The total height of sign above the ground must not exceed fifteen feet 
six inches, and a space of three feet six inches allowed between the 
bottom of the board and the ground. Wooden billboards arc limited 
to a size not exceeding twelve square feet in area. All billboards must 
be constructed of sufficient strength to withstand a wind pressure of 
twenty-five pounds to a square foot of surface. Billboards arc not 
allowed to be constructed on anv block where one-half of the buildingrs 
are used for residential })urposes without obtaining consent in writing 
from a majority of the frontage. 

Los Afu/cles. 

Ordinances in this city ])rohibit the erection of billboards in sec- 
tions of the city set apart for residential purposes. 

Loudon, England. 

The City of London f\^arious Powers Act., 1911) regulates the 
construction of hoards and scafi^olds and the advertisements ])laced 
tlicreon. and projections such as swinging signs extending from the 
front of 1)uildings. \^ery little, however, appears to have been done 
in tlie wa\- of specific res^ulations afl-'ecting billboard advertising. 

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Liverpool, England. 

The Liverpool Improvement Act of 1882 provides (section 76, sub- 
division 2) that it shall be unlawful to erect any hoard or similar 
structure, to be used either partly or wholly for advertising purposes, 
abutting or adjoining any street, to a greater height than fifteen feet 
above the level of such street without the consent of the corporation 
upon plans submitted; it further provides that the structure shall be 
kept in proper repair, and all papers or posters taken or falling there- 
from shall be removed immediately. 




Eastern Parkway Opposite Prospect Park Plaza. Signs to Left on City Property 

A penalty of five pounds and a daily penalty of twenty shillings 
during the existence of a violation are imposed. 

Manchester, England. 

Under section 18 of the Manchester Corporation Act of 1891 the 
citv licenses the erection of billboards or hoardings. Plans are re- 

33 






quired to be submitted along with the application. They are limited 
in height to fifteen feet. 

Glasgozv, Scotland. 

Under the Glasgow Building Regulations Acts, persons proposing 
to erect hoardings or structures to be used for advertising purposes on 
land fronting on any street are required to present a written application 
to the Dean of Guild, who determines if a permit is required, examines 
as to the stability of the structure and issues a decree to the Master of 
Work, who grants authority for the erection of the billboard or 
hoarding. 

It is further required that the structure be kept in safe condition. 

In the cities of England and Scotland the permits are limited to 
a period of from two to four years. 



Fran 



ce. 



In France a drastic resolution is under way for the purpose of re- 
stricting billboard advertising, if not for its complete elimination. On 
April 20, 1911, a law came into force forbidding advertisements on or 
near any historic monument, or in certain specified localities. This 
provision has recently been followed by a measure placing a heavy tax 
upon all advertisements which obscure or disfigure the beauty of the 
surrounding neighborhood. 

In future all placards less than §ix square meters in area will pay 
at the rate of 5 francs per square meter. The rate is increased to 100 
francs a square meter for placards of 6 to 10 square meters, 200 francs 
a square meter when the size is 10 to 20 square meters, and 400 francs 
a square meter when upward of 20 square meters. These rates are 
doubled if the hoarding contains two advertisements; trebled if there 
are three, and quadrupled if there are four or more advertisements on 
the same hoarding. 

The law also provides that all land upon which are erected signs or 
billboards for advertising purposes shall be valued, for the purpose of 
assessment for taxation, at its actual value plus the revenue derived 
from such advertisements. 



TENTATIVE SUGGESTIONS FOR AN ORDINANCE 

On the basis of the ordinances in effect in the various cities pre- 
viously mentioned, we have prepared a tentative form of ordinance for 
New York. Due consideration has been given to the probable ruling 

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quired to be submitted along with the application. They are limited 
in height to fifteen feet. 

Glasgow, Scotland. 

Under the Glasgow Building Regulations Acts, persons proposing 
to erect hoardings or structures to be used for advertising purposes on 
land fronting on any street are required to present a written application 
to the Dean of Guild, who determines if a permit is required, examines 
as to the stability of the structure and issues a decree to the blaster of 
Work, who grants authority for the erection of the billboard or 
hoarding. 

It is further required that the structure be kept in safe condition. 

In the cities of England and Scotland the permits are limited to 
a period of from two to four years. 

France. 

In France a drastic resolution is under way for the purpose of re- 
stricting billboard advertising, if not for its complete elimination. On 
April 20, 1911, a law came into force forbidding advertisements on or 
near any historic monument, or in certain specified localities. This 
provision has recently been followed by a measure placing a heavy tax 
upon all advertisements which obscure or disfigure the beautv of the 
surrounding neighborhood. 

In future all placards less than i?ix square meters in area will pay 
at the rate of 5 francs per square meter. The rate is increased to 100 
francs a scjuare meter for placards of 6 to 10 square meters, 200 francs 
a square meter when the size is 10 to 20 square meters, and 400 francs 
a square meter when upward of 20 square meters. These rates are 
doubled if the hoarding contains two advertisements: trebled if there 
are three, and quadrupled if there are four or more advertisements on 
the same hoarding. 

The law also provides that all land upon which are erected signs or 
billboards for advertising purposes shall be valued, for the purpose of 
assessment for taxation, at its actual value plus the revenue derived 
from such advertisements. 



TENTATIVE SUGGESTIONS FOR AN ORDINANCE 

On the basis of the ordinances in effect in the various cities pre- 
viously mentioned, we have prepared a tentative form of ordinance for 
New York. Due consideration has been given to the probable ruling 



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of the courts on the question of constitutionality, with the result that 
the proposed ordinance is somewhat more conservative than we might 
wish in dealing with so glaring an evil. The refusal of the Court of 
Appeals to recognize aesthetic values as a justification for the exercise 
of the police power, makes it very difficult to draw an ordinance which 
will prove satisfactory from the standpoint of regulations and control. 




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Double-deckers Opposite Centra? Park, Fifth Avenue and 103d Street 

Proposed Amendment of Section 144, Chapter 15, Ordinances Known 

as Building Code. 

* * * Fences, signs, screens, billboards or other 
structures supported wholly or in part by uprights and 
braces shall not at any point be more than seven feet in 
height without the permission of the Bureau of Build- 
ings. No billboard more than seven feet in height shall 
be erected unless the same and all supports and braces 
shall be constructed entirely of incombustible material 
and sufficiently secured to sustain a wind pressure of 
thirty pounds to the square foot in accordance with 
plans approved by the Bureau of Buildings. Every ap- 
plicant for permission to erect a billboard more than 
seven feet in height shall submit with his application the 
written consent, duly acknowledged, of the owner in fee 
of said premises, and shall give at least one week's pre- 




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of the courts on the question of constitutionality, with the result that 
the proposed ordinance is somewhat more conservative than we might 
wish in dealing with so glaring an evil. The refusal of the Court of 
Appeals to recognize aesthetic values as a justification for the exercise 
of the police power, makes it very difficult to draw an ordinance which 
will prove satisfactory from the standpoint of regulations and control. 




Double-deckers Opposite Centra? Park, Fifth Avenue and 103d Street 

Proposed Amcndiucnt of Section 144, Chapter 15, Ordinances Knoivn 

as Building Code. 

* * * Fences, signs, screens, billboards or other 
structures supported wholly or in part by uprights and 
braces shall not at any point be more than seven feet in 
height without the permission of the Bureau of Build- 
ings. No billboard more than seven feet in height shall 
be erected unless the same and all supports and braces 
shall be constructed entirely of incombustible material 
and sufficiently secured to sustain a wind pressure of 
thirty pounds to the square foot in accordance with 
plans approved by the Bureau of Buildings. Everv ap- 
plicant for ])ermission to erect a billboard more than 
seven feet in height shall submit with his application the 
written consent, duly acknowledged, of the owner in fee 
of said premises, and shall give at least one week's pre- 



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vious notice in writing, personally or by mail, of such 
application and the time and place thereof, to the owners, 
occupants or agents of all houses and lots of land within 
a distance of 100 feet from the nearest point at which 
such proposed fence, sign, screen, billboard or other 
structure is proposed to be erected. No such application 
shall be considered by the Bureau of Buildings unless 
the same is duly hied with said, bureau at least two days 
previous to the date of hearing accompanied by duly veri- 
fied proof of the service of said notice of application on 
the said owners, occupants or agents aforesaid. 

Should any such fence, sign, screen, billboard or 
other structure be or become insecure or in danger of 
falling, in the opinion of the Bureau of Buildings, the 
owner thereof or the person maintaining the same shall 
upon notice from the Bureau of Buildings immediately 
and within ten days secure the same under the super- 
vision of the said Bureau of Buildings and in a manner 
to be approved by said bureau. 

Any chimney, cornice, statuary device, design, model, 
perpendicular surface, sign or billboard, supported or 
attached, wholly or in part, over or above any wall, build- 
ing or structure shall be deemed to be a superstructure 
within the meaning of this section. 

All such superstructures, including the uprights and 
supports thereof, shall be of non-combustible material 
and erected entirely within the building line and be 
properly secured, supported and braced, and shall be so 
constructed and attached to the wall, building or struc- 
ture as not to be or become dangerous. 

Before any such superstructure shall be erected the 
owner thereof or the person maintaining the same shall 
file with the Bureau of Buildings plans and specifica- 
tions thereof and obtain from said bureau a permit to 
erect the same. 

No superstructure of the nature of a perpendicular 
surface, sign or billboard shall be so constructed as to 
prevent free ingress or egress to or from the roof of the 
building by means of fire ladders or scaling ladders. 

Every superstructure of the nature of a perpendicu- 
lar surface, sign or billboard shall be so constructed as 
to withstand a wind pressure of at least 30 pounds to 

38 



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the square foot, and no such superstructure shall be 
erected as to be of a size to resist a total possible wind 
pressure of more than 10,000 pounds. 

Every such superstructure shall be inspected at least 
once in each calendar year by the Bureau of Buildings. 

Every owner of or person maintaining such a fence, 
sign, screen, billboard or other structure or superstruc- 
ture in the nature of a perpendicular surface sign or bill- 
board shall pay to the Bureau of Buildings an annual 
inspection fee amounting to ten cents per square foot of 
the surface thereof exposed to wind pressure. 

Every owner or person maintaining such fence, sign, 
screen, billboard or superstructure in the nature of a 
perpendicular surface sign or billboard shall obtain from 
the Bureau of Buildings a written permit and shall ex- 
hibit same whenever requested by an inspector of any 
city department or bureau or other competent official. 

Any violation of the provisions of this section shall 
be punishable as provided in section 150 of this chapter. 



39 



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